2019 is the second year that we have been putting supplementary seed down into the meadows specifically to support farmland birds. Last year we saw no Yellowhammers but this year they have been visiting throughout the spring and summer. Here are some photos that the bird ringer took of them back in May:




I am delighted to say that up to two juveniles are now visiting along with an adult:

Trail camera

Trail camera

Yellowhammers are red listed birds and to have provided a habitat where they have successfully bred is definitely one of the highlights of our wildlife year.

I was googling Yellowhammers to find out more about their breeding activities and I came across the interesting fact that the distinctive call of the Yellowhammer – often described as ‘a little bit of bread and no cheese’ – is suggested to be the inspiration for the famous opening few bars of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.

The more you observe a species, the greater your depth of understanding of them and, often, the bigger your empathy with them. However, this just hasn’t happened with me and Magpies. The more I learn about them, the more I think that there are too many of them around. Below is a series of photos to support this view:

Trail camera

Trail camera

Trail camera

Although I have to say that the Magpie has probably met its match here:

Trail camera

Incidentally, referring back to my previous post, this Sparrowhawk does not have a white spot on the back of its head:

Trail camera

The Magpie’s victim looks like it was a House Sparrow and there are certainly a lot of these feeding up on the strip and it is perhaps not surprising that they have attracted the attention of these predators:

Trail camera

A young Sparrow in the foreground below is being fed by its mother:

Trail camera

House Sparrows having a bath…

Trail camera

…and a mixed bathing group of Sparrow and Linnets:

Trail camera

One of this year’s baby Badgers gave me cause for concern when it became covered in what I at first thought must be ticks around its neck:

Screenshot 2019-08-15 at 07.07.25 2

Screenshot 2019-08-15 at 07.15.00

Screenshot 2019-08-15 at 07.10.59

But then I looked at the dog:


and realised that at this time of the year there are so many plants that are trying to disperse their seeds by hitching a ride on a mammal pushing through the undergrowth.

Although it might be difficult to remove burrs from one’s own neck, so much mutual grooming goes on between Badgers that hopefully this will all get sorted out quite quickly:

Screenshot 2019-08-15 at 07.21.35

Screenshot 2019-08-15 at 07.17.53

We put a new small pond out when Scarface had a bad leg and we thought he might have trouble hopping down to the main pond to drink. It has subsequently been used by many Birds and Foxes but last night was the first time that a Badger used it to drink:


although a Badger had been caught on film passing it while gathering bedding a few nights previously:


Here is a very nice portrait of a Badger from the wood:

Trail camera

The Buzzard continues to visit the shallow tray in the wood every day. This bird does have a white patch on the back of its head:

Trail camera

The weather has been very mixed recently and a few days ago we saw a waterspout out to sea. I had never seen one of these before:


There are often interesting ships offshore. Here we have a a Panamanian research vessel, the Med Surveyor, built in 1968, which was moored up for the night and which is being passed behind by one of the Border Force ships that regularly patrol these waters:


The Med Surveyor is still moored as this Dutch Hopper dredger goes past, the Reimerswaal, looking a bit like a disreputable pirate of the seas:


Two last photos for today.

For a few days now there has been a large female Slow Worm under one of the squares which I believe can be described as ‘gravid’ – carrying eggs or young:


We are hoping that she will give birth under this square and that we will see the young before they disperse.

And finally, as my parting photo for today, there is this:

Trail camera



Buzzard in the Wood

For the past week or so, a Buzzard has been visiting the shallow pond in the wood. The trail camera has really been getting some great images of this magnificent bird:

Trail camera

Trail camera

Trail camera

Trail camera

Trail camera

When the bird ringer sent me the photo below of the Cuckoo that he has recently ringed, he commented that it has a white spot on the back of its head (just visible in the photo), much like a Sparrowhawk has and that, by mimicking Sparrowhawks in this way, it is thought to help to avoid predation by them:


However, I now notice that the Buzzard in the Wood also has a white spot on the back of its head:

Trail camera

Why have these raptors got white spots on the back of their heads? I do not know but will attempt to find out.

I read that Buzzards mainly eat small rodents but also take birds, reptiles, amphibians, large insects and earthworms. Anything up to 500g can be taken alive but if the prey weighs more than this, then it will have to be carrion. Here is the Buzzard looking for earthworms in the same place as the Tawny Owl hunts for them at night. Clearly a worming hotspot.


Also in the wood, the two baby Badgers that we were getting photos of earlier on in the summer are still around. Badger mortality is very high in their first year and so it is good to see them both:

Trail camera

Trail camera

Below are the two Badger cubs at the meadows with their mother and an older sister:

Trail camera

The male Badger, Scarface, about whom I was so worried last week, seems to have made a good recovery, although it is unusual for him to allow a Fox to be around him like this:

Trail camera

I am sure, however, he would make a point of scattering this lot:

Trail camera

Foxes are enjoying using the small additional ponds that we have put in the meadows this year. Here is one drinking:


and then, ten seconds later:


I can only apologise to subsequent users of the pond. So many birds are using them:

Trail camera
House Sparrows
Trail camera
Surprised how massive a Greenfinch beak is.

A few days ago we dug a small sand pit as an additional type of habitat:


The next morning, it looked like it had been thoroughly investigated:


And, now, a few days later, it has continued to be dug around:


We should have put a camera on it straight away,  but we have now and so hopefully we shall see who is doing this.

More rain was expected overnight and so, again, the tarpaulin went out:


We did get 6mm which was welcome but so much more is needed. This morning, after the rains, something made me look in this lime green bucket below:


I found two very surprising things. One was a newtlet in the few centimetres of rainwater collected within:


How did that get in there?

The other thing was a large black Dung Beetle floating on the surface of the water. I fished it out and it was still alive:



I have identified it as the Common Dumble Dor (Geotrupes spiniger). Did J K Rowling use this Beetle as inspiration?

These Beetles are associated with cow pats. They burrow under the pat and drag balls of dung down into the burrow to feed their young. But there are no farmed animals close to here. Tucked behind the water butts are three black buckets in which we are making Comfrey fertiliser and the smell of this stuff is extraordinarily and offensively manure-like. Could it be the smell from these buckets that has attracted this Dung Beetle? I looked into the buckets and, sure enough, I found another one drowned in one of them:

A Common Dumble Dor, drowned in a bucket of Comfrey fertiliser. However, it does demonstrate how Beetles fly.

The underside of the Dumble Dor Beetle is beautifully metallic, although they are known to always be infested with mites as this one indeed was:

The metallic underside of the Common Dumble Dor along with associated mites.

I didn’t like the thought that these buckets may be luring animals in to their death and so I have now strained the fertiliser into its final containers, which are upcycled ironing water flagons:


Not without spilling some of the foul smelling liquid over my foot, though. Comfrey fertiliser is very good but I am definitely going to upgrade my equipment should I decide to make it again.







Sand Land


Sandwich Bay, a short distance up the coast from us, is a special place for nature. A large sandy bay with marshes behind and located close to the shortest crossing to mainland Europe, it is a migration hotspot and we went up there a couple of days ago to see the seven Wood Sandpipers that were being reported there. A few of these birds usually arrive in the UK every year on passage but we had never seen one before.

While we were there we also went to the bay to stretch the dog’s legs but didn’t get much further than the sandy car park where we found a colony of Bee-wolves:

A Bee-wolf. Philanthus triangulum.

These are wasps that live in a colony of tunnels in the sand:

A Bee-wolf in the entrance of its tunnel.

They prey on Honey Bees – paralyse them and fly back to their tunnel carrying them upside down.

Bee-wolf with Honey Bee prey.
The wasp’s tunnel entrance had collapsed and so it drops its prey to dig it out again.
Trying to find its tunnel entrance
Tunnel found, the wasp disappears down it….
Then it pulls the unfortunate, paralysed Honey Bee down after it.
Predator and prey now underground, the wasp will now lay an egg on the bee.

As we watched, we saw numerous wasps coming in carrying Honey Bee prey. It was completely horrible and totally fascinating both at the same time.

This encounter with a sand-dwelling species, along with seeing House Sparrows sand-bathing on the coastline below the meadows, gave us the idea to create a sand pit in the meadows  to introduce this different type of habitat here and see if anything uses it.

Five bags of sand and the location decided.
The job in progress.
The completed sand pit.

We do have an existing shallow-sand beach by the side of the hide pond and here is someone who loves to use it:

Adult male Green Woodpecker approaches the water.
Trail camera
The water bath bit completed….
Now for the sand bath.

Here is the adult female at the wild pond:

Trail camera

She has a similarly over-the-top bathing technique:

Trail camera

Also at the wild pond is a speckly juvenile female:

Trail camera

She may be one of the two juvenile females below that I photographed here a fortnight or so ago:


This juvenile below, however, is a male with red in his moustache:


He seems to be following in his parents footsteps when it comes to bathing:


The bath the Woodpecker is using is a new one that we put out for the injured male Badger, Scarface. The ponds are so low at the moment that we worried that he would have difficulty getting down to the water with his injured leg.

Although the bath immediately proved extremely popular with many birds and Foxes, there have been no Badgers drinking from it so far. However, I have good news to report: Scarface is now walking on all four legs again and the swelling has gone down:

Screenshot 2019-08-04 at 15.22.07

That is such a relief.

Here is an unusual view of one of the female Badgers:

Screenshot 2019-08-02 at 09.54.16

As the hot weather continues, all three of the new mini-ponds are being well used:

Trail camera
Trail camera
House Sparrows

These ponds were so cheap and easy to do, I can’t think why it has taken us until now to think of doing them.

In much the same way as the Bee-wolf was taking Honey Bees back to its nest as food for its young, here in the meadows is a Kite-tailed Robberfly (Machimus atricapillus) with its prey, a paralysed Hoverfly, going back to the Robberfly’s nest.

Kite-tailed Robberfly Machimus atricapillus

But on a less gory note, below is a very striking Jersey Tiger Moth – probably an immigrant from France:


A Comma Butterfly is so named because of the white comma mark on the underside of its hind-wings:


At the beginning of this post, I mentioned Sandwich Bay and this is where the bird ringer does much of his ringing. He has sent me some photos of a Cuckoo that he ringed there this week:




Such long wings. This is a juvenile and it is an interesting thought that its father is probably already migrating back through  Africa.



Badger Concern


I ended the previous post full of anticipation for a decent amount of rain. A large tarpaulin went down to increase the catchment area of the wild pond that so desperately needed topping up.


It was surprising to see that the Foxes didn’t seem to have a problem walking on this tarpaulin:

Trail camera

Trail camera

In the end we did have 20mm of wonderful rain.

Trail camera
A wet Fox after the rain.

Before the rain, at the hide pond:


And immediately afterwards:


Although subsequently there have been quite a few hot and dry days again and the levels have dropped right back down.

For the last three nights, the male Badger (Scarface) has not been able to put any weight on his left front leg:

Screenshot 2019-07-30 at 15.22.58

Badgers use their front paws to dig for their main food, earthworms, and without the use of this paw, my worry is that he will not be able to feed.

Screenshot 2019-07-30 at 15.20.12

Screen Shot 2019-07-30 at 14.59.12

I contacted the East Kent Badger Group yesterday and asked for any advice that they might have. Their view was that the most likely scenario is that he has a thorn in his paw and his body will sort this out itself although it takes a week to ten days to do so.

We doubled the number of peanuts that went out last night so that they lasted longer and that his share of them was larger. This resulted in a bit of a bonanza although none of these animals below are Scarface:

Trail camera

But here he is, eating them at 2.41am when ordinarily they would be long gone well before midnight:

Trail camera

However, reviewing the trail cameras this morning, we see that he has a large swelling in his upper arm and the problem probably isn’t his paw at all:

Screen Shot 2019-07-31 at 10.20.55

I have got back in touch today with the Badger group and they are very helpful. However, there isn’t really much to be done because he would be next to impossible to catch in order for a vet to take a look at him. Things that can be tried, though, is to put out some Marmite on bread because the B vitamins in Marmite can apparently help. There are also some homeopathic Aloe Vera pills that are available from chemists that can sometimes give remarkable results. We will try both of these and hope that they, together with the simple passage of time, will work their magic.

A few days ago I visited Highgrove, the home of Prince Charles and Camilla in Gloucestershire. The gardens (..and the champagne cream tea) were absolutely fantastic and it is well worth going but their famous wild flower meadow was completely over by this time of year. All seed heads and nothing still in flower.

Grass is a much larger component of our meadows here and, at first sight, there is now no colour here either:


But in fact , looking closer, there is still quite a lot going on:

Lesser Knapweed going strong
Lovely patch of Scabious
Wild Carrot and Lesser Knapweed.
A large clump of Marjoram, absolutely covered in Butterflies and Bees when the sun shines.
Gatekeeper and Common Blue on Marjoram

There has been a welcome return of a lot of the summer Butterflies, now on their second brood of the year. Small Heaths, Brown Argus, Marbled Whites, Common Blues and Wall are once again dancing through the meadows.

Common Blue

The House Sparrows nesting in the House Martin box are busy raising their third brood of  young. I see that the male is ringed:



I am on a few Swift Groups on Facebook and from these I learn that Swifts are currently leaving the country in their droves and it is time to turn our Swift Call machine off for this year. It has proved to be such an effective Swift attractant and now we need some of the Swifts that have been sweeping over the meadows all summer to remember our box when they return next year. We plan to build a second one over the winter and also investigate installing a box camera because wouldn’t that be great.

Yellowhammer are still frequent visitors and they particularly like the painter tray ponds:

Trail camera
Female Yellowhammer on the right.


Foxes also drink a lot from these small ponds:

Trail camera

This next photo made me realise for the first time that Foxes tails are actually longer than their legs which feels like a poor design feature:

Trail camera

And I have a few more Fox photos to include as well:

Screen Shot 2019-07-27 at 18.11.18

Screen Shot 2019-07-27 at 18.10.20


Trail camera

Screenshot 2019-07-30 at 15.16.30

Trail camera

We saw this tiny little Viviperous Lizard today warming up on top of one of the reptile sampling squares:


Viviperous Lizard eggs hatch inside their bodies and they ‘give birth’ to live young in July  but this is the first time we have seen one so newly born.

In the allotment area, there was this very large spider web in the Rosemary. It is the nest of the Nurseryweb Spider. These Spiders build their web not to catch prey but into which to place their egg sac so that it will protect the spiderlings once they hatch:


Nurseryweb Spiders often hold their legs in this distinctive formation:

Nurseryweb Spider. Pisaura mirabilis.
Nurseryweb Spider. Pisaura mirabilis.

I am now keeping an eye on this egg sac waiting for the babies to hatch.

The last photo from the meadows is of a Red-legged Shieldbug that was on one of the trail cameras:

Red-legged Shieldbug. Pentatoma rufipes.
Red-legged Shieldbug. Pentatoma rufipes.

The Shieldbug larvae feed on deciduous trees but the adults are partly predatory and eat caterpillars and other insects as well as fruit.

The young Bullfinch have kept on returning to the pond in the wood, although we haven’t now seen them or the adult Bullfinch for a few days. Did they just come here to breed?:


Here are some of the other visitors to the wood’s ponds over the last week or so:

Trail camera
One of this year’s young Great Spotted Woodpeckers with its red cap.
Trail camera
The adult male.
Trail camera
Juvenile Goldfinch
Trail camera
Fox cub at the painters tray
Fox cub at the other pond.
Trail camera
Trail camera
Male Sparrowhawk

We haven’t spent much time at the wood recently because there has been a lot on but we are planning on staying the night there next week, us and the dog. This is something I haven’t done before and which fills me with slight nervous apprehension. But I am sure it will be fine and, either way, I will report back here!



Painted Lady Summer

There was an article in The Guardian this morning about 2019 seeing the largest influx of Painted Ladies to the UK for a decade. In 2009, eleven million Painted Ladies arrived in this country but numbers for this year are not yet known and we are all being encouraged to take part in the Big Butterfly Count that started today until 11th August to try to put a figure to it.

A Painted Lady on Knapweed back in June.

We had already noticed that a few weeks ago there were many, many more Painted Ladies around than we had ever seen before. Large numbers had been spotted in the Eastern Mediterranean and they arrived in Eastern England on 14 June. Others came through Spain and arrived in Western England two weeks later. Apparently lots of eggs have now been laid and the young should be hatching out of their pupae as adults during the Big Butterfly Count window of time.

Armed with this knowledge, we went out this morning to see if we could find any evidence of Painted Lady breeding on the Thistles in the meadows.

The Butterfly lays an egg on the Thistle and, when the caterpillar hatches out, it builds itself a silk tent for protection. It goes through five instars (where it sheds its skin in order to increase in size) and builds larger tents as it grows.

Here is a tent with quite a large caterpillar inside and dark faeces gathered at the bottom of the tent:


We found several of these tents as we inspected the Creeping Thistles:


Here is one of the Caterpillars outside of the protection of its tent:


We have marked up the Thistles that we found these nests on and will return in a week or so to see if we can find the pupae.

As we were inspecting the Thistles, we came across other interesting things such as this large female Wasp Spider (Argiope bruennichi):



She is quite an unmistakable Spider as it is, but apparently the web with this white central ribbon is very characteristic as well.

She spins her web low in the grasses because she is trying to catch Grasshoppers and Crickets such as this Roesel’s Bush-cricket (Metrioptera roeselii).



There were also these, with their bright red eyes and the most unappealing of names: Flesh Flies


And these beautiful Six-spot Burnet Moths:


The reptile ecologist came today. He is relocating Slow Worms to us from a nearby plot of land that is being developed. We haven’t seen him for ages though because reptiles go into aestivation in hot dry weather and are not to be found warming up under his sampling squares.  Aestivation is a light summer hibernation, necessary because they eat snails and slugs who also aestivate in weather like this.

However, we saw him today because he had caught Slow Worm Number 100 – a juvenile born last year:


We saw a Slow Worm ourselves today under one of our sampling squares. It is a large female who will be full of young at the moment- even though they are reptiles, Slow Worms give birth to live young because their eggs hatch inside their body.


The juvenile Green Woodpeckers are turning up on various cameras. Here is one up by the tiny pond on the strip:

Trail camera

Trail camera

Trail camera

This pond is also being used by a wide variety of birds. Here is a group of Linnets:

Trail camera

And it is extremely pleasing to now be getting frequent visits from Yellowhammers again:

Trail camera


Trail camera

Trail camera

Having devoured all available cherries, the Magpies are now stripping the wild plum tree:


Trail camera

The Badgers are coming out to start on the peanuts before it gets quite dark, giving us a rare opportunity to actually see them with our own eyes. We watched this little vignette following through a scope from afar:

Trail camera
A mother and cub gathering to await the arrival of the peanuts.
Trail camera
Once the peanuts arrive, the Foxes get going on them.
Trail camera
A female Badger approaches from the cliff path.
Trail camera
Initially the Foxes are put off their stride..
Trail camera
But they soon realise that the Badger doesn’t have a problem with them and there is peaceful munching together for quite a while.
Trail camera
Then Scarface, the male Badger, approaches from the cliff. The Foxes notice him…
Trail camera
….and shoot off. Scarface in the foreground with the much heftier skull 
Trail camera
The Badgers now have the peanuts to themselves for as long as they want.

Here is last year’s cub on the cliff path early in the morning:

Screenshot 2019-07-17 at 22.10.27

It has been so hot and dry here with no rain for such a long time. But rain is forecast overnight tonight and so we have prepared ourselves to divert as much as possible into the pond which is critically low:


So often we hear of rain sweeping across the country but so often it seems to miss this easternmost finger of Kent. Fingers crossed that tonight we actually get some.



Woodland Butterflies


Kicking off with the wood, we have constructed a cooking area by digging in some bricks in a starburst pattern. Unfortunately we were just one brick short:


We will put that right the next time we go.

The male and female Bullfinch are probably the most frequent visitors to the pond at the moment. They are there several times a day and what absolute beauties they are:



But that is not all. They are also now bringing three juveniles.  The young don’t have the black caps of their parents and therefore might have caused confusion had I not swotted up and been looking out for them:



Completely delighted that Bullfinch are successfully breeding in or near the wood.

We saw a White Admiral on the wood edges – a very noteworthy butterfly.


The larval food plant is wild Honeysuckle and we had stopped to smell some of that, currently out in flower, just before we saw the Butterfly.

But there is more – a Silver-washed Fritillary, basking in a sunny patch, flew away vigorously as we approached. I chased after it but only really managed to get a record shot this time:


But I will be back to try again, and this time with the right lens on the camera.

The larval food plant of this Butterfly are Violets, especially the Common Dog Violet, and there was a lot of that here earlier in the year.

Some others from the wood:

Female Meadow Brown.
Male Gatekeeper

We also saw Large Skippers, Large Whites, Red Admiral, Brimstone, and Commas.

This wasp nest, built into a burrow in the ground, has been dug out by Badgers:



Although we have heard Green Woodpecker many times whilst at the wood, this is the first time that we have seen one:

Trail camera

And a juvenile as well:

Trail camera

I love how Teasel flowers grow:



At the moment, the more mature part of the wood has masses of this Enchanter’s Nightshade growing as the main understorey plant. It is unrelated to other Nightshades and is completely harmless and it gives the wood an ethereal feeling with its tiny white flower heads floating above the greenery.

Circaea lutetiana. Enchanter's Nightshade.
Circaea lutetiana. Enchanter’s Nightshade.

Moving back to the meadows, there have been juvenile Green Woodpeckers here too. These two young birds had an escort of House Sparrows and occasional bombing by Blackbirds wherever they went.



They are both young females because their moustaches are dark with no hint of the red moustache that even a juvenile male would have:


Back in March, the strip was rotivated and it looked like this:


Nowadays, it looks like this:

Trail camera

What a difference a few months have made.

At the moment on the strip we seem to have more Foxes than birds coming to eat the food that we are putting down and we are hoping that this means that the wider countryside is amply providing for birds at this time of year. What this has resulted in, however, is that we have been getting some wonderful daytime Fox photos:







Trail camera

The camera looking down onto the Badger sett took this photo which made me smile:

Trail camera

And another camera had this:

Screenshot 2019-07-14 at 07.21.30

Last night at the peanuts there were up to six Foxes:

Trail camera

Trail camera

and four Badgers:

Trail camera

The peanuts don’t last long with this number of large visitors.

We pulled up a few reeds from the pond and in no time at all they have disappeared underground into the Badgers’ sett.

Screenshot 2019-07-16 at 13.19.09

Trail camera

And still the young Badgers play, watched over by a long-suffering mother:

Screenshot 2019-07-16 at 13.22.08

More breeding activity from the Woodpigeons:

Trail camera

Although, it this a Pigeon egg that the crow has?:

Trail camera

And also on Corvids, the Magpie family is still around:

Trail camera

This parasitic wasp below is Dusona falcator:


It is a parasite of Buff-Tip moth larvae. I had a Buff-Tip in the moth trap the other week and it looks like a Silver Birch twig:


This parasitic wasp picks up the caterpillars of this moth and carries them back to its nest where it lays an egg on it, I’m afraid. The life cycles of these parasitic wasps are not for the faint-hearted.

Here is another lovely moth that we found in the hedgerow, The Magpie:


The last photo for today is of the Patricia. She is a buoy-laying vessel and she often comes and puts down anchor overnight alongside these meadows. It feels like an old friend has to come to visit when she arrives.


I understand that she has some berths available for paying guests so that you can be aboard as she carries out her duties and then get off when she next puts into a port. Maybe one day…..

Dragonfly Days

A barrow-full of Ragwort 

Last week we cut an area of the meadow that had a lot of Creeping Thistle in an attempt to weaken and control it. This week it is the turn of another injurious weed from the 1959 Weeds Act, Common Ragwort.

Ragwort contains a toxin that slowly builds up in the livers of horses and cattle and does them no good at all. Although we know that animals are not going to graze these meadows and that any hay cut is not going to be fed to them, we have decided to remove it all anyway and ensure that we will not be guilty of letting it spread to other land. It has a lot of wildlife value but there is no shortage of Ragwort on rough ground around this area. The verges of the M20 down to Dover, for example, are completely acid yellow with the stuff at this time of year.

In our first summer, there was so much Ragwort growing here. Now, five summers of Ragwort-pulling later, there has been an enormous reduction. The annual Ragwort cull provides an opportunity to quietly step around the meadows, immersing yourself in its July loveliness and reacquainting yourself with all its little absorbing details. It is tremendously therapeutic.

There has been much Dragonfly action at the hide pond. This male Broad-bodied Chaser rests up at the side for an arriving female.



Once she turns up, things happen really fast – the pair join together whilst flying noisily over the pond and, after a couple of minutes, the female starts flying alone, dabbing her abdomen into the water in flight to lay eggs:



Below are two females laying eggs side-by-side. The abdomens of some older females start to go blue:


Female Emperors have also been laying eggs into the pond with a different technique. She lands, sticks her abdomen onto the water and lays the eggs over the course of several minutes which is so much easier to photograph:



One Emperor made a miscalculation and became submerged in the water and we needed to launch a rescue mission:



She was alright.

Today, we had two additional species of Dragonfly at the pond as well. The Red-veined Darter is a scarce migrant from Europe, although I did photograph one laying eggs into the pond two years ago.

Red-veined Darter male, awaiting a female. The blue undersides of the eye and the single pale stripe on the thorax are the distinguishing features of this Dragonfly


The red veins in the wing

A Dragonfly that we have never seen here before today is the one below – the Black-tailed Skimmer:

Black-tailed Skimmer


To round off this great day of Dragonflying, we noticed 20-30 very small Dragonfly exuviae (empty larval cases, the adult Dragonfly having emerged from it) clinging to the reeds of the pond.



I brought one back and measured it – it was only 16mm long and, looking in my book, I think that it is the exuvia of a Common Darter.


From only occasionally seeing Kestrels this year, we have started seeing them everyday hunting over the meadows.

Two Kestrels on the white cliffs

A short walk away is an area where the white cliffs rise up and then run south down to Dover. We went there and met a man who pointed out a hole high up on the cliff where Kestrels had nested this year and had just successfully fledged four young. These have to be the same birds that we are now seeing over the meadows.



Kestrel with the back half of a rodent prey

These Kestrels were up high on the cliffs and it is so great to now be able to take photos of them with my new camera lens.

The bird ringer also visited this area and took this photo of a ringed male Linnet singing:


This bird is almost certainly one of the approximately 150 Linnets that have been ringed here in the meadows and this is the first time we are aware of one being seen elsewhere, albeit only half a mile away.

The new tiny ponds that we dug in last week are proving popular amongst the local bird population, the first birds arriving only a couple of hours after they went in.

Trail camera



A satisfyingly easy project now successfully completed.

Here are a few other photos from the meadows:

Trail camera
Having a good old scratch at peanut time
Screenshot 2019-07-12 at 06.40.18
The young Badgers do so much romping together still
A trail camera caught a Goldfich in flight
So many Gatekeepers out in the meadows at the moment. This is a male with the dark central bars on the forewings.
In contrast, so few Burnet Moths this year. The first 6-spot Burnet that I have seen.
Marbled White

The headline from the wood is that the pair of Bullfinches are now visiting the wood ponds several times a day:

Trail camera

Trail camera

Trail camera

Trail camera
Male and female Bullfinch

The Tawny has been worming underneath the feeders again although this has to be optimistic given how hard the soil is in this dry spell:

Trail camera

The lack of rain has meant that the ponds are getting a lot of visitors. Here are nine birds using the pond at the same time:

Trail camera

And the mammals are using it much more frequently as well:

Trail camera

Trail camera

Surely we are due some rain now?